Biography

Multi-instrumentalist John Nastos was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, where he found his love of music while exploring the vibrant local music scene.

Before graduating from high school, John enrolled at Portland State University, where he studied with Alan Jones, Darrell Grant, and other Portland jazz luminaries. During that same year, he started performing with the Mel Brown Septet, the Gordon Lee Big Band, and other professional Portland groups.

In 2004, Nastos graduated from high school and moved to New York City on a scholarship to study jazz at the acclaimed Manhattan School of Music. At MSM, John studied saxophone and composition with Dick Oatts (Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra), Bob Mintzer (Yellowjackets), Steve Wilson (Chick Corea), and Mike Abene (WDR Big Band). In 2007, John completed the four-year degree program in just three years.

Since returning to Portland, John has performed with the who’s who of the Portland scene, including the Mel Brown, the Bobby Torres Ensemble, the Oregon Symphony, the Third Angle New Music Ensemble, Darrell Grant’s On the Territory, and the Damian Erskine Project. He has recorded with the Chuck Israels Orchestra, Intervision, Ben Darwish’s Commotion, the Jessie Marquez, and others.

Nastos’s composition, arranging, and compositional skills have been commissioned for performances and recordings by Damian Erskine, the Bobby Torres Ensemble, the Art Abrams Swing Machine, and Pink Martini (for performances with the San Francisco Symphony and other orchestras around the world).

He has toured extensively with Grammy-winning vocalist Dianne Schuur, playing performances with her in the United States, Europe, and Asia. He has also toured with the Grammy-winning artist Esperanza Spalding.

In 2011, Nastos programmed and released an innovative new metronome app called Metronomics, which is now used by thousands of musicians around the world. Metronomics was followed up in 2015 with a sister app called Harmonomics, which focuses on ear training exercises, and 2017 with PitchCenter, an innovative tuning application.

He has authored and released two books in his ongoing series “The Mechanism.” The first, titled An Improvisation Overview is a quick primer for students on some of the fundamental elements required to practice and learn improvisation. The second, titled Pentatonic Patterns, is a set of over 1200 pentatonic patterns designed to expand an improviser’s repertoire.

Nastos is currently on faculty at Portland State University, and maintains a busy performing, recording, and teaching schedule around the Portland area.

John Nastos performs on: soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones, Bb and bass clarinets, flute, alto flute, piccolo, and EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument)

Equipment list:

Alto saxophone: Selmer Super Balanced Action or Mark VI with a Meyer 8M mouthpiece and Legere Signature Series 2.5 reed

Tenor saxophone: Selmer Super Balanced Action or Yamaha Custom 82Z with a Saxscape mouthpiece and Legere Signature Series 2.75 reed

Soprano saxophone: Antigua Winds with a Meyer 7M mouthpiece and Legere Signature Series 2.5 reed

Baritone saxophone: Yamaha 23 with a Meyer 7 mouthpiece and a Legere Signature Series 2.5 reed

Clarinet: Buffet R13 with a Vandoren M30 mouthpiece and Legere Signature Series 3.5 reed

Bass clarinet: LeBlanc with a Vandoren B45 mouthpiece and Legere Signature Series 3 reed

Flute: Sankyo Solid Silver

Alto Flute: Trevor James

Piccolo: Yamaha 32

EWI: EWI4000S